Thanks to school closures, children missed out on in-person teaching, as well as regular face-to-face interaction with their friends, for the best part of a year.
The main rationale for closing schools was to help ‘flatten the curve’ of total infections, and thereby prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed. (We’ve known since early on in the pandemic that children’s risk of death from Covid is vanishingly small – lower even than their chance of dying from seasonal flu.)
However, evidence suggests that neither lockdowns in general, nor school closures in particular, were necessary to prevent healthcare systems from being overwhelmed; and the harms from school closures were substantial.
Once the Government conceded it was time for schools to reopen, there came a new justification to keep them closed: protecting teachers. Yet studies have repeatedly shown that teachers are not at elevated risk of death from Covid.
Even after schools finally did open up, pupils faced a rigamarole of mask mandates, regular testing and stints of mandatory self-isolation. Since the vast majority of vulnerable people (and most teachers) had been vaccinated by this point, it’s unclear exactly why things couldn’t just return to normal.
As far as one can discern, the specific rationale seems to be: ‘something to do with case numbers and/or long Covid’. Why we should care about case numbers in an age-group that faces a higher risk of death from season flu has not been explained.